A German submarine is sunk in the Hudson Bay. The surviving Nazis cross Canada to reach the United States, which is still neutral. A bizarre war movie, tense, enthralling, which plays on the libertarian feelings which all the ethnicities, cultures, and religions which compose the Canadian melting pot share, from the Native Canadians to the Amish. A great cast (Laurence Olivier, Leslie Howard, Raymond Massey), the first collaboration with Anton Walbrook (P&P’s beloved actor), an Oscar to Pressburger for the screenplay.
An American soldier, a member of the women’s auxiliary, and a British sergeant intertwine their lives and their desire for peace near Canterbury, the famous medieval destination of Chaucer’s pilgrimage. Magical moods, daily desires and disappointments, and a mysterious maniac who wanders through the village at night and pours glue onto the hair of girls. Iconoclastic and original, a mysterious film, a mixture of comedy, thriller, and war movie, which scandalized the censors at the time.
Peter, an RAF pilot, is shot down over the Channel. As he falls, he flirts on the radio with an unknown American auxiliary. When he comes to on the beach, he finds her beside him. It’s love at first sight, except that the Angel of Death is looking for him to take him away. Or maybe Peter is hallucinating. A to and fro between Earth (in color) and the Hereafter (in b&w), a masterpiece of wittiness, amazing special effects, and visual and narrative intelligence.
A painter leaves New York and returns to Australia to rekindle his inspiration: the sea, nature, beaches, and a young, uninhibited muse with whom he falls in love. James Mason and a young Helen Mirren in a luminous and sensual song which, deep down, evokes Shakespeare’s The Tempest (which Powell was never able to make). The woman’s naked body made of sand on the beach is unforgettable.
A murky melodrama set in an English convent perched in the Himalayas, where the conflict between duty and desire, the soul and the flesh, is ablaze. Underneath their wimples, all the nuns have red hair: one of them (Deborah Kerr) can handle the inner turmoil, another (Kathleen Byron) has eyes of fire and loses control. Breathtaking views reconstructed in the studio and “psychic” Technicolor for a movie which was first snubbed by the critics and then became a cult.
Pressburger writes a story which exploits the elements of the preceding film: another wartime thriller, once again Veidt in the role of a foreign officer (this time Danish, neutral, “good”) who thwarts a conspiracy of German spies in London. For the first time, the city is shown under curfew, the atmosphere is dark and mysterious, the action is succinct. The first film with Alfred Junge, the visionary set designer of the following movies.
The prey - the fox - has gone to ground: this is how the bloody foxhunts of the British nobility end. And the earth, the green land rent by all the shades of red which indicate emerging eroticism, guides the story of the meek pastor’s young wife, who becomes the lover of the insatiable local lord. Nature struggles against civilization, Technicolor brings the splendid locations ablaze, Jennifer Jones recaptures the savage carnality of Pearl in Duel in the Sun.
A young woman is on her way to an island to marry a very wealthy man (for his money). After a storm blocks her on the Scottish coast, she begins to fall in love with the local lordling. Love and magic in Powell’s beloved stormy landscapes; a chorus of Celtic “witches,” whose irrational energy overwhelms the protagonist’s middle-class common sense.
Another war, of Resistance, in Crete, where two British officers and a group of partisan fighters kidnap the German general who is the island’s commander. Based on a true story, the last movie P&P made is a daring game of hide-and-seek, in which the players challenge each other in cunning and courage across the entire island. Dirk Bogarde dominates as the eccentric captain Leigh-Fermor, who imitates Byron and reads Alice in Wonderland.
Another musical film, shot on a stage divided into various rooms. An adaptation of The Bat by Johann Strauss, set in post-war occupied Vienna, a bizarre opera buffa in which Russians, Americans, and Englishmen chase each other, trick each other, chat, sing, and dance from one room to the next. They are guided by the Austrian master of ceremonies and tricks Anton Walbrook, who, dressed in tails and a cape, hatches pranks and deceit.